No, you can’t have two cookies before dinner. And, no, you can’t play with sticky slime on the new, fluffy, shag statement rug I just bought. You absolutely cannot give your sister, yourself, or anybody (including the dog) a haircut. Maybe it’s time for us to consider having a yes day.
As tired as my kids are of hearing me constantly saying no, it’s equally annoying for me to have to shut their requests down repeatedly. I can be a fun mom still – can’t I?
It’s not that I love saying no more often than not. But time runs short. Plans go awry. And sometimes, I’m stretched a little too thin to add one more thing to my to-do list. Honestly, I want to say yes. Yes, to sweet treats. Yes, to 10 more minutes on their tablet. And, yes, to just about anything. So, I decided to do just that. My girls and I decided it was time to have a yes day.
What is a Yes Day?
Now, if you find yourself wondering, what is a yes day? Look no further than the 2021 film starring Jennifer Garner (as basically every mom ever). If you’ve somehow not already watched this movie with the kiddos, add it to the list!
Without spoiling the entire plot, the kids in the movie create an entire checklist of everything they want to do, and mom and dad are left with no choice but to say yes.
But wait. You have to say yes? Yes, to everything? Well, yeah. That’s what a yes day boils down to. However, it doesn’t mean you’ll grant their every wish and desire.
How to Manage a Yes Day
While you’ll be granting yes after yes on your yes day, it doesn’t mean it’s a free-for-all (no matter what the kids think). Because, as a mom, you know what goes and what will not fly.
Of course, first and foremost, making sure everyone is safe is always a top priority. So, while your kids might want to try out “flying” with a creation of their invention off the roof, it isn’t gonna happen. I’m not saying you can’t find a happy medium, like going to a trampoline park or zip lining for that same heart-bursting and adrenaline-pumping experience. But you don’t want to spend your money, or your yes day, in the emergency room.
Set Some Rules
You know how your kid’s teacher tells them not to interrupt class unless they’re broken, bleeding, or on fire? Start your yes day by applying that same logic to the rules. Safety aside, don’t agree to something you can’t say yes to.
For example, my kids wanted to do one of those buy-whatever-you-can-carry-to-the-cashier kind of challenges. But since I’m not made of money, we had to reimagine that experience (I mean, my kids are YouTube shopping challenge experts).
Listen, I don’t have a YouTube-like budget to do that kind of spending on our very first stop. Instead, I gave them each a budget and said to pick out whatever they wanted if it stayed in the budget. Did I let them go shopping? Yes. Did they get to make their own choices within reason? Yes.
Along the same train of thought with setting rules, ensure you’re realistic, especially with your time. If this is the kid’s first-ever yes day, they’ll be tempted to schedule the whole day like you’re traveling in a Jetson hyper-speed rocket.
But as a mom, you’ve learned to anticipate things going wrong. It doesn’t matter how seamless the planning is. If something can go wrong, it will, especially when you have kids.
Why Should You Say Yes?
As parents, you want to give your kids the world. And not just physical things like another toy they absolutely don’t need. Or a trending gadget that only holds their attention for two hours. You want to give them experiences, your time, and attention. It feels good to say yes, and you might be surprised by what they request compared to what you think they’ll ask to do.
Evidence supports that having a yes day lets you know your kid’s true interests better and helps cultivate a strong sense of autonomy. According to clinical neuropsychologist Bill Stixrud in an interview with CNN, fostering a child’s sense of autonomy helps them find things they enjoy and reject what they don’t.1
Tips for the Best Yes Day
You finally decide that your yes day is a go! So, what can you do to ensure the experience is (a good) one for the books?
Cover the ground rules with your kiddos. Decide ahead of time what goes and what doesn’t.
Encourage your kids to think outside the box. Try something different together. Have a new experience and create fun memories while you’re at it.
Amidst all the preparation and planning, don’t forget to have a good time. The whole point of a yes day is to cut loose and enjoy yourself. Even if things don’t go exactly as planned, don’t let it stop everyone from having fun.
While a yes day isn’t something you do every day, you can still find smaller ways to start saying yes more. My family’s yes-day list included baking, coloring, pottery painting, and a read-a-thon. Come on! Who doesn’t want to say yes to all of that?
Believe it or not, I think having a yes day must be part of our regularly scheduled program. Because it turns out saying yes more isn’t just fun for the kids–it’s a pretty great feeling for me, too.